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Grade Disputes

When a student has evidence that the final grade s/he has received in a course is inaccurate or unjustified, the student may dispute the final course grade. Procedures used to dispute a final course grade must be initiated by the student before the following dates, or the student forfeits the right to dispute the grade:

  • For a grade received in a fall semester course: February 15
  • For a grade received in a spring semester course: July 31
  • For a grade received in an interim or summer session course: September 30

Students are encouraged to ask for information and/or seek assistance regarding final grade disputes and the appeals process through Madison College Counseling Services (Conflict Management Services). The role of Madison College Counseling Services in regard to final grade disputes is to provide information about the process and, if requested, provide support to the student through the process. Madison College Counseling Services does not mediate, negotiate, gather information, or serve any administrative role in issues involving a final grade dispute. A student may request assistance from Madison College Counseling Services by calling (608) 246-6076, by coming to Room 159AA at the Truax Campus, or by contacting the appropriate campus administrator.

Students who disagree with a grade received on a test, essay, homework, performance, computer program, project, and the like are encouraged to discuss the matter with the instructor who issued the grade. However, grades received on tests, essays, homework, performances, computer programs, projects, and the like may not be disputed when received. Only a final course grade may be disputed.

Final grades may only be disputed for the following reasons:

  1. The final grade was issued in error. This includes situations where there was a miscalculation of grade points that resulted in a lower grade for the appealing student. The student must clearly demonstrate the miscalculation. It also includes situations such as missing records, mistaken grade entries, and the like.
  2. The final grade issued was arbitrary. This means that the grade lacked a reasonable basis. To prevail in a final grade dispute based on arbitrariness, the student must show that the grade was issued due to whim or impulse, and/or lacks a convincing rationale.
  3. The student has documentation that s/he received a lower final grade than another student for the same academic work at the same level of competency.

Process Used to Dispute Final Grades

  1. To dispute a final grade, the student must first contact the instructor who awarded the grade by the dates shown above. The student must inform the instructor of the reason for the final grade dispute, which can only be one of the three reasons stated above. The instructor and the student should make every effort to resolve the issue at this time. It is expected that most misunderstandings can be resolved by the instructor and the student. If the instructor and the student agree that the grade was in error, arbitrary, or different than another student’s despite being the same academic work at the same level of competency, the instructor will change the student’s final course grade in Faculty Center to reflect the correct final course grade.
  2. If the instructor decides not to change the student’s grade, s/he must communicate that decision in writing to the student either by mailing this decision to the student’s current address as maintained by the institution or by emailing the decision to the student’s Madison College email address.
  3. If the instructor decides not to change the student’s grade or the student is not able to contact the instructor despite reasonable efforts to do so, the student may appeal the final course grade to the student’s program dean. The student must inform the program dean of the reason for the final grade dispute, which can only be one of the three reasons stated above. The student’s program dean may consult with the instructor’s dean on this matter if the program dean and instructor’s dean are not the same person. The student should consult the Madison College website for a list of programs, schools and deans. The student must contact his or her program dean before the following dates, or the student forfeits the right to appeal the grade:
    • For a grade received in a fall semester course: March 1
    • For a grade received in a spring semester course: August 31
    • For a grade received in an interim or summer session course: October 31
  4. When appealing to his or her program dean, the student must provide written documentation that the instructor refused to change the grade. If the student was unable to contact the instructor, copies of the email or other documentation (including dates and times) of reasonable attempts to reach the instructor must be provided to the program dean. The program dean or designee will work with the student and the instructor in an attempt to resolve the dispute. Both the student and the instructor may have a support person attend any meeting scheduled with the program dean, but that support person is not permitted to speak for, mediate, or otherwise advocate for the student or instructor. The program dean will complete the review within 10 business days of receiving the student’s appeal and communicate the results in writing to the student and faculty member within 5 business days of the review unless there are extenuating circumstances.
  5. Student Appeals to the Provost. If the matter is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction at the program dean level, the student has a final opportunity to appeal the final course grade in writing to the Provost or designee to request a hearing before the Academic Appeals Board. The Provost or designee must receive the letter or email requesting an appeal before the following dates, or the student forfeits the right to appeal the grade:
    • For a grade received in a fall semester course: March 31
    • For a grade received in a spring semester course: September 30
    • For a grade received in an interim or summer session course: November 30
  6. Faculty Appeals to the Provost. If the matter is not resolved to the instructor’s satisfaction at the program dean level, the instructor has the right to appeal the determination of the program dean by writing to the Provost or designee to request a hearing before the Academic Appeals Board. The Provost or designee must receive the letter or email requesting an appeal before the following dates, or the instructor forfeits the right to appeal the determination of the program dean:
    • For a grade issued in a fall semester course: March 31
    • For a grade issued in a spring semester course: September 30
    • For a grade issued in an interim or summer session course: November 30
  7. Student Requests Hearing before Academic Appeals Board. When requesting the Provost or designee to schedule an Academic Appeals Board hearing, the student must provide dated written documentation of the instructor’s refusal to change the grade (or timely attempts to contact the instructor) and the program dean’s refusal to change the grade. In addition, the student must submit a letter or email stating the student’s reason for disputing the grade, which can only be one of the three reasons stated above, and what he/she believes to be the correct final grade in the course. The Provost or designee will immediately send a copy of the student’s request for hearing to the instructor who awarded the disputed grade, the instructor’s dean, and the student’s program dean.
  8. Instructor Requests Hearing before Academic Appeals Board. When the instructor timely requests the Provost or designee to schedule an Academic Appeals Board hearing, the Provost or designee will immediately send a copy of the instructor’s request for hearing to the student, the instructor’s dean, and the student’s program dean.
  9. The Academic Appeals Board hearing will be scheduled by the office of the Provost within 10 business days after receiving the written request for hearing. The student, instructor or dean(s) may request that the time be extended for justifiable reasons (for example, summer schedules and faculty availability or extenuating circumstances). The student, instructor and dean(s) will be notified in writing in such circumstances. All persons involved in the hearing will be notified in writing of hearing time, date, and location by mail, personal delivery, or Madison College email. The office of the Provost is responsible for these notifications. A description of the Academic Appeals Board and its procedures appears below.
  10. A decision will be made by the Academic Appeals Board regarding the final grade in question. All parties will be notified of the decision by the Provost or designee within 5 business days following the hearing unless the Academic Appeals Board needs additional time to complete its work. Decisions of the Academic Appeals Board are final.
  11. The Academic Appeals Board that presides at the Academic Appeals Board hearing consists of the Provost or designee and at least four members representing each of the following groups: faculty, learning program administrators, students designated by Student Senate, and a student development and success representative.

Academic Appeals Board

  1. The Academic Appeals Board shall be established to hear appeals initiated by a student of a final course grade received by the student. The Academic Appeals Board will also hear an instructor or dean’s recommendation for the suspension of a student from the College for violations of the College’s Academic Misconduct policy.
  2. The Academic Appeals Board shall be convened from a pool of persons trained and able to hear academic conflict cases. Membership in the pool shall include:
    • The Provost or administrative designee
    • Three (3) Learning Programs administrators
    • Three (3) Learner Development representatives
    • Four (4) faculty from Learner Success or Learner Development
    • Four (4) students designated by the Student Senate
  3. The Provost or designee shall convene an Academic Appeals Board as needed and shall serve as the chair of the Board. A convened Board shall consist of at least the following: The Provost or designee; one (1) Learning administrator who was not the investigating dean on the case; one (1) Learner Development administrator; one (1) faculty who is not the faculty involved in the case; and, one (1) student designated by the Student Senate who is not the student involved in the case. No convened Board shall consist of a majority of student members.
  4. The student and instructor may each have one person of their choosing present during this hearing for support, but this support person will not be permitted to speak for or otherwise act as an advocate for the student or instructor.
  5.  After hearing all information, all participants, except Board members, will be asked to leave the room. The Board will then deliberate in private. When a decision has been reached the Board Chair will communicate its decision in writing, giving its findings and conclusions to the parties involved and to the Vice President of Student Development within 5 business days following the hearing. This time may be extended for justifiable reasons.
  6. The decisions of the Academic Appeals Board are final.